As some of you may know, I love to chop it up on social media when it comes to the Royals. A lot of my friends are football fans that aren’t in love with baseball the way I am so I appreciate a good baseball conversation. Sometimes, however, those conversations get taken a bit too far out of hand.
I admittedly do it myself on occasion. My imagination gets the best of me and pretty soon I’ve convinced myself that the Royals can be .500, sign Manny Machado, and compete for a Wild Card as soon as 2020. While it’s okay to let your minds wander from time to time, there are a few ideas that I’ve seen semi-frequently on social media that I really want to address with you all. Keep in mind that while these are opinions, they are thought out and will be backed with logic and reason. I’d like to make sure we keep it that way instead of the conversation turning emotional and, “Well I don’t like that.”
1.) The Royals should not move Danny Duffy to the bullpen unless it is absolutely necessary
I asked Dayton Moore today at his season-ending press conference if the Royals would consider moving Danny Duffy or Ian Kennedy to the bullpen to strengthen that area and he said that would be a possibility: "We have to open-minded."— Jeffrey Flanagan (@FlannyMLB) October 18, 2018
After Flanny tweeted this, I saw a number of Royals fans suggest that Danny Duffy could be a real weapon out of the bullpen. I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. I believe that Danny Duffy could be a dynamite reliever, but dynamite relievers don’t sign $140M contracts. The market would insinuate that good starting pitchers are still much more valuable to teams than good relievers (though that is changing a bit), and the Royals are paying Duffy way too much money to just give in and move him to the ‘pen.
For example, Wade Davis received the largest contract ever for a relief pitcher in terms of AAV. He makes $17.33M AAV for the life of his deal. Danny Duffy still has three years left on his contract at roughly $15.5M annually. That is almost as big of a contract as Wade Davis and Aroldis Chapman in terms of AAV. Even if Duffy was a great reliever, he probably won’t live up to his contract in the bullpen and he becomes almost untradeable.
However, if Danny Duffy can find a way to return to his 2016-2017 form, not only does he become worth every dime the Royals pay him, but he might be able to pitch himself back into being a valuable trade asset as well. Duffy’s contract runs out after the 2021 season, and the Royals core of young pitchers consisting of Daniel Lynch, Jackson Kowar, Brady Singer, Kris Bubic, Austin Cox, Carlos Hernandez, Arnaldo Hernandez, Yefri Del Rosario, Brad Keller, and Jake Junis, all figure to need big league innings in some capacity by the end of 2021. If the Royals aren’t in a position to make the playoffs come the July trade deadline in 2021, Danny Duffy may still be traded.
What I am not saying here is that Danny Duffy should never for any reason be moved to the bullpen. If Duffy can’t figure things out in the rotation, then obviously a move to the bullpen is more than fine. What I don’t want to see is the Royals rush Duffy to the bullpen just because. He should be given every opportunity to succeed in the rotation first, and moved to the bullpen as a last possible option.
2.) Salvador Perez can not move to first base long-term
Is a Salvador Perez move to first base inevitable? https://t.co/qa5xgjpKlB pic.twitter.com/Jo9VohD3BW— Royals Review (@royalsreview) October 13, 2017
With all due respect to Ryan, this can not happen. The answer for Salvador Perez can not be a long-term move to first base. It. Can. Not. Happen. Ever. For any reason. If you take every first baseman to record at least 250 PA in 2018, Salvy’s 89 wRC+ would’ve ranked 40th. There are only 30 teams in the MLB. Salvy would be by far the worst every day first baseman in all of baseball, not to mention the fact that he would then be blocking Ryan O’Hearn and potentially Nick Pratto in 2021.
Almost all of Salvador Perez’ value comes from his Gold Glove defense. Salvador Perez is a good enough hitter, as a catcher. His overall production would absolutely plummet if the Royals move him out from behind home plate. If you want a comparison for Salvy at first base, here’s one for you:
- Salvy: .235/.274/.439, 27 HR, 89 wRC+, 1.7 fWAR
- Ryon Healy: .235/.277/.412, 24 HR, 90 wRC+, -0.8 fWAR
Salvy’s defense alone was worth two wins in 2018. If Salvy were to move to first base, he suddenly becomes a negative win player. Could Salvy potentially find some offensive improvement by moving out from behind home plate? Sure. But even if he were 10% better offensively, he’s still not even a replacement level first baseman.
When Salvy’s contract comes up in 2021 I’m not sure what the Royals plans for him will be, but one thing is for certain: Salvador Perez is going to be the primary catcher until then. Meibrys Viloria probably needs two more seasons until he’s ready to roll full-time in the big leagues, and MJ Melendez almost definitely won’t be ready until 2021. Salvador Perez is an All-Star for a reason, his defense, and I fully expect him to stay behind the plate for the duration of his contract.
3.) Yes, the Royals should absolutely draft Adley Rutschman if he’s available
If Adley Rutschman is available come draft time, would you take him if he's considered the best prospect available by the Royals, despite what seems to be a strong stable of catching prospects in the system. I say yes, best player always.— Chris Monley (@MU_CHRIS) November 18, 2018
I’ve gotten a few of these over at Royals Farm Report, and I expect many fans have been wondering the same thing. Over at RFR, we unveiled MJ Melendez as our top Royals prospect. Naturally, people wanted to know how that impacts the Royals 2019 draft. The Royals have several really good catching prospects in the system, namely Meibrys Viloria and MJ Melendez, and people want to know if drafting Adley Rutschman #2 overall would be overkill.
Absolutely not. If the Orioles choose to go with someone else at #1 next June, I would unequivocally support the Royals drafting Rutschman. At this point in time, Rutschman looks like a lock to go first overall, but things change. If for some reason the Orioles pass on the Oregon State backstop, the Royals should absolutely grab him. It’s okay to have a plethora of good catching prospects. As much as I love MJ Melendez, he’s no lock to be a big league starter, as very few prospects are. Load up on as much talent as possible and figure out positions later. Adley Rutschman would almost instantly be regarded as the top catching prospect in baseball. I would never suggest passing on a talent like that, even if you do have Melendez.
So there ya go. Just a few things that pertain to the Royals that I wanted to help clear up for anyone who may have been wondering. Again, while this is technically my opinion, I’d be fascinated if someone could come up with a better argument against them. The most debatable one would be the Adley point, but with the information available right now, he’d by my number one draft prospect by far. Things could very well change that affect Adley Rutschman, but the point of drafting a lesser player because you have a position of weakness is how you end up with Christian Colon...cough.